Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of Year, 2014

Dear friends and family:

Well, initially I told Jennifer she was insane when she said, “Dan, it’s about time to write that holiday letter.”
“Balderdash!” I cried! “I just finished the last one about ten minutes ago!”  Then I looked at the clock, and lo and behold it said “end of November” (it’s a very good clock) and I realized it was in fact time for the 2014 Holiday Letter!
To be fair, it has in fact been a pretty intense year in many good ways.  It has been a year of change, and a year of birth, and a year of discovery.  Before this begins to sound like the opening narration to “Babylon 5” I should get into the specifics.
In April, after 21 years of service, I left my beloved United States Army behind.  About that same time I listened to my Career Counselor who said “we will help you find a job” and got a job as a Career Counselor.  It’s not what I plan to do the rest of my days, but it has been a nice transition job allowing me to stay close to what I know while exploring new things.  If anyone does however have some good opportunities in the state of Washington, please let me know.
The most important news of the year though comes not from retirement nor the State of Washington, but rather New Mexico and my First Born.  Indeed, my Son Zachary who was married last year has welcomed HIS first born, Jade Serenity Foster.  She is the most perfect creature in all of God’s creation, and I am both so glad and incredibly envious my Jennifer got to be there for Jade’s birth.  She brought me lots of pictures though and we have enjoyed Skyping with Zack, Toni, and Jade.  It may be all Dick Tracy style video conferencing, but I am most certainly looking forward to the chance to bounce that little girl on my knee while watching Star Trek in person.  Grandpa’s going to buy that girl her first set of pointy ears..
Speaking of Jennifer, despite my retirement from the Army, she has maintained her role as person who keeps the rest of us out of jail while becoming more Northwestern by the minute.  This year she took on Mushroom hunting—which can apparently be done without a license—and insofar Hannah and I have experienced neither bad trip nor death from the fungus fed us.  She has gotten lost in the woods at least once while tracking her wily prey, but so far she has always made it home so we can eat the mushrooms instead of them eating her.  She has also been busy keeping our beehives we started this year running, though a strong wind and lot of rain freed a couple of hives from our care.  Or drowned them, but I prefer to think the queen took her minions to dryer climates.  If you live south of us and see a swarm go by, tell them we miss them and they are always welcome home.
And as we discuss critters leaving the hive, this may be the last Christmas our dear daughter Hannah spends at home.  She is preparing to venture out at the beginning of the year to explore the wilds of the world.  What that yet entails we shall see, but she is ready to see the world, and Jennifer and I are ready to convert her room, so in the end it’s a win—win, right?  We will miss her though, and like the bees, should see decide to fly home, we would certainly find her a place.  In a box behind the back fence.  I kid!
Then of course there are the four legged children.  Eightball has become accustomed to the fact he is one of two dogs, but every now and then he mentions something to be about not needing Luna around.  Luna has in fact not only shed her timidity following her rescue, she is now a pretty seriously demanding, diva-like, greedy, pain in the butt.  As a 14 pound little Italian Greyhound should be.  Patches the Evil Cat® is still with us at age 17, sustained we are sure on spite and the distinct pleasure she gets from making me change her cat box.  I gripe about that cat, but I will miss her when she is gone…until of course she starts haunting me, mewling all night from beyond the grave.
So that is the state of the Fosters this year, having transitioned, but still in transition as well.  I suppose in the end that is really everyone, right?  We wish you all a Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas, and Wonderful New Year, until the next letter…
…about ten minutes from now.

Love to you all,

Daniel, Jennifer, Hannah, Eightball, Luna, and Patches the Evil Cat®

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Seattle Star Trek Convention 2014

Sporting the NX-01 Cover-all; don't be jealous.

This weekend I went to my first pure Star Trek convention since 2005.  I’ve hit a few ComiCons of various size in that time, but not a good old Trek convention in a while.  So how was it?

At first I was a little worried: it seemed so small.  Despite it having a really stellar guest list, the vendor room could not have had more than a dozen vendors.  It was in Bellvue and not downtown Seattle, so a smaller venue.  There were really only three rooms at the center in use.

And yet, this was one of my best con experiences in years.

While walking through the admittedly small vendor room, someone called out, “now that’s an outfit I know!”  It was Anthony Montgomery. 

I was apparently eating an invisible apple.
We had a long chat about his new comic (Miles Away, as see above), and I got him to sign my “Star Trek: Star Charts” map of the NX-01’s first year.  He also made sure I was following him on Twitter @MrAMontgomery.  Ha!  I already was. Then he shows the book to the guy at the table next to him and it’s a surprise guest: Herbert Jefferson, the original Boomer from Battlestar Galactica.  Though non-Trek, he was a welcome surprise guest!

I expected a quick chat and then an autograph, but on and off throughout the day Jennifer and I spent about an hour talking to Herb about various programs he supports to help Veterans.  It came up that I do career counseling for people getting out of the Military, and had myself just retired, and we were off.  Let me quickly pitch a group he is working with,  Great initiatives to support Vets and their families and lots of Congressional lobbying, please take a moment and check them out.  He also showed me pictures of him with  Congressional Medal of Honor recipient George Sakato (and shared some of Mr. Sakato’s great stories!) and with the original Red Tails, some of the Tuskegee Airmen.  All through the day we saw Herb, and he was a delight each time.

Popping into the presentations, we caught Jeri Ryan.  As you all may know, Voyager is not my favorite of the Treks, but Ms. Ryan proved to be very entertaining and engaging and someone who was obviously there for the fans.  It was a real pleasure to listen to her, and frankly, television does not do her justice. 

Then came John Billingsley, Star Trek: Enterprise’s Doctor Phlox.  The man was a mile a minute laugh riot whose answers to fans’ questions were nearly stream of consciousness and utterly hilarious.  He had apparently hosted karaoke the night before and I was sorry I had missed it.

This is him and my wife's thumb.

Of course there were the fans.  More than a few cosplayers, but all and all a different crowd that a comic or pop-culture convention.  It reminded me that despite Trek’s great success over the years, the Trekkie can still be a bit of a minority in the now very broad world of fandom.  These fans seemed more matter of fact than the crowds I see at the big shows.  There was not the “I’m here to show you how much I love this thing” feel, but rather a “isn’t it cool we’re all here to love it together.”  I saw cosplayers from every Trek from TOS to AOS (though I think I may have been the only ST:E outfit), and it was a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.  Just a great experience. 

The geek world has become so accepted in recent years, but maybe it lost something in becoming so mainstream.  There may be a sense of camaraderie we’ve lost along the way.

This con though, it was there.  It was family, it was close, it was sharing.

It was why I go to cons in the first place.  I hope I can find more shows like this one.
The amazingly fortunate author with his incredibly tolerant wife.